U.S. envoy warns European Union towards protection trade protectionism

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the initial batch of national military-expenditure plans demanded by the USA show progress toward a goal for alliance members to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of defense ministers meetings later this week, Stoltenberg said the topic of fair burden-sharing would be high on the agenda.

Almost half of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are still not on track to meet defense spending goals, falling well short of an alliance pledge that also has become a US demand for all 29 members.

The U.S. spends more on defense than all the other allies combined. "This year we expect eight allies to meet the target", he added.

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NATO Secretary General supports the new defense cooperation which is created among the European Union member states adding that NATO will benefit from the increase of the European Union defense spending.

Still, Stoltenberg highlighted the progress on defense spending in recent years, noting that allies have stopped their cuts and have begun gradually increasing their budgets. "That's not to say that everyone's where they need to be or has plans for where they're going, and we'll discuss that. So we'll continue to strengthen our partnership, we'll continue to work with Ukraine", Stoltenberg said.

"This should lead to significant improvements to our forces and their readiness", Stoltenberg said.

"We can not outsource Europe's security obligations to the United States", British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters.

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Canada's spending was at 1.2 percent in 2017 but defense minister Harjit Sajjan said a year ago his nation plans to boost spending by 73 percent to $24.2 billion in 2026.

On Jan. 17, the USA -led coalition announced plans to build a 30,000-strong border security force in Syria with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US -backed group composed mainly of the YPG, which Ankara sees as a terror organization for its links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

"Two percent is the bare minimum for confronting today's very real and very vicious threats". More in detail, Katie Wheelbarger, a senior Pentagon official, said that: "Washington was supportive of Pesco as long as it's complementary to and not distracting from Nato's activities and requirements".

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